The term personal branding is the Frisbee of career talk, but it isn’t a new concept. It’s not even a complex concept. It’s just something you need to grasp if you don’t want a dead-end career.

The problem with this Frisbee is that it has been thrown, flipped, and passed around like a last-minute drugstore fruit cake around the holidays. The result is a version of branding that comes across as obnoxious self-promotion.

Combine obnoxious self-promotion with social media and you get a glorified tribe of jerks tooting their horns like a broken record playing the same song: “The Greatest ME of All.”

I see this a lot on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, but it’s also starting to run rampant on LinkedIn. This type of personal branding can be a turn off because who wants to be that person? I know I certainly don’t want to be.

Bad examples on social media can make you feel like branding is a dirty thing. But it isn’t.

There’s nothing wrong with promoting your brand and wanting to get noticed by the right people.  After all, you can’t be found by a recruiter or potential business connection if you’re hiding your awesome and noteworthy skills. You just don’t want to give the perception that you think the world revolves around you—especially if that’s not your intention.

I’m here to tell you that there is a comfortable middle ground in personal branding that doesn’t have to make others cringe or think you’re a jerk.

 4 Ways To Positively Promote Your Brand

Talk about yourself…sometimes. If you continue to talk about yourself all the time it will eventually sound like “wah, wah, wah” to everyone else.  A common 80/20 rule for social media marketing can also apply to personal branding: Spend 80 percent of your time on LinkedIn building relationships and 20 percent of your time marketing your brand. A way to gauge whether you have a good balance is to do a temperature check on your LinkedIn activity. Make sure you’re doing more networking with your connections than status updates or posts about yourself.

Talk about people in your industry you respect.  Don’t assume that people only care about your opinion.  It’s true that a part of personal branding is being seen as a reliable and credible source in your field. But you don’t have to prove that by being THE ONLY reference for the information you provide. People want to get information from a variety of sources. Plus, it takes the pressure off of you to be clever all the time (who needs that anyway?).  It’s okay to share information written by experts and colleagues who you respect.

Talk about how your brand helps others.  Sorry, but your LinkedIn network is not invested in your ultimate dream of becoming a celebrity financial adviser. What do they care about? How you can help them better manage money, save for retirement, or plan a luxury vacation on a budget. Whatever your specialty is, think about how your knowledge can make someone else’s life easier.  If you want people to care about your brand, and dreams, you have to prove that you care about helping them succeed as well.

Talk about your support system. Stop acting like you’re a one person show. Acknowledging the people that contributed to your success is not a ding against your brand. It shows that you‘re confident enough to give credit where credit is due. LinkedIn recently had a #ThankYourMentor series that gave contributors the chance to talk about their mentors, and it was great to see the collection of praises from highly successful people.  Not sure where to start? You can simply thank someone for helping you with a question, guiding you to the right resource, or connecting you to the right person.  Show that touch of humility and people will admire your brand even more.

Ultimately, social media is not your own reality show. You never want your brand to be synonymous with jerk.  If you balance helping others with self-promotion, you will shine online and in person.

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Marietta Gentles Crawford
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Marietta Gentles Crawford

Writer + Personal Brand Strategist, Founder at MGC Ink
Marietta Gentles Crawford is a writer, personal brand strategist, and author of "From Nine to Thrive: A Guide to Building Your Personal Brand and Elevating Your Career." With over 15 years' experience climbing through top corporate brands, she helps small businesses and freelancers communicate their brand message and stand out from the crowd.
Marietta Gentles Crawford
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